Of Joshua And Jesus: Remarkable New Discoveries At Ai -- By: Bryant G. Wood

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 27:4 (Fall 2014)
Article: Of Joshua And Jesus: Remarkable New Discoveries At Ai
Author: Bryant G. Wood


Of Joshua And Jesus:
Remarkable New Discoveries At Ai

Bryant G. Wood

photos by
Michael C. Luddeni

Finds continue to be made at Khirbet el-Maqatir that confirm the identification of the site as the Ai of Jos 7-8. Apart from the discovery of the Bronze Age gate in our initial 1995 season, I would have to say that the 2013 and 2014 seasons were the most important of the following 11 seasons. Significant discoveries were made relating to three of the four major phases of occupation: the Bronze Age fortress, the Iron Age I settlement and the Late Hellenistic-Early Roman town.

Three-And-A-Half-Millennium-Old Scarabs Still Speak

On the last day of the spring 2013 season we made a rare find—an Egyptian scarab in a secure archaeological context. Most scarabs are not found in archaeological excavations at all, but rather are acquired on the antiquities market, usually coming from the illicit digging of tombs. Scarabs found in a legitimate excavation typically are found in tombs, where their value is limited because of the jumbled nature of tomb deposits. Many scarabs are found in mixed debris where the archaeological stratum cannot be determined with certainty. The rarest find spot is in a dateable archaeological level.

The 2013 scarab came from a two-inch layer of compacted soil lying on bedrock, along with four sherds of 15th century BC (Late Bronze I) pottery. One of the sherds can be confidently dated to the second half of the 15th century BC, the LB IB period. All four sherds were refired, indicating that they had been heated to a high temperature subsequent to their manufacture, most likely in the burning of Ai recorded in Jos 8:28. Initial research indicates that the scarab was made in Egypt in the reign of Amenhotep II (1455-1418 BC),1 thus confirming the late 15th century BC date for the destruction of Maqatir based on pottery. Chronological data in the Old Testament establishes the exact year of the burning of Ai—1406 BC. Because of the significance of the scarab in supporting the identification of Maqatir as Ai, it was named by Christianity Today as the number one find in biblical archaeology in 2013.2

On the second day of the spring 2014 season a second scarab was found. Unfortunately, in this case, the area it came from had been badly disturbed by vandals between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The scarab is still extremely important, however, because of the intrinsic information it provides. It was locally ma...

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